The start of the high school boys basketball season is more than three months away.
But the buzz is already building for Sheldon High School and a group of players who constantly have to be told to relax by coach Joey Rollings.
“These guys always want to play,” Rollings said. “They call all the time and ask if I’ll open the gym so they can shoot around.”
Sheldon is coming off a 2009-10 season in which the Huskies went 28-6, won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and reached the CIF Northern California semifinals.
With two national recruits in seniors Darius Nelson and Ramon Eaton and a huge cast of gifted young players that includes sophomores D’Erryl Williams, Dakarai Allen and Ryan Manning, Rollings has assembled arguably the most ambitious nonleague schedule in area history.
Sheldon opens against Castro Valley in the marquee game of the seven-game NorCal Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 27 at Newark Memorial. That will be a rematch of Sheldon’s NorCal playoff opener last March, in which Nelson scored 49 points, including the decisive three-pointer in the 85-82 double-overtime win.
On top of nonleague games against rival Franklin, the team the Huskies beat in the D-I section final, and Northern California power De La Salle of Concord, Sheldon is playing in major national tournaments in Southern California, Kentucky and Louisiana.
The 16-team Santa Monica High School Tournament, set for Dec. 8-11, includes D-II state champion Lincoln of San Diego, D-II Southern California runner-up Compton and D-V SoCal runner-up Windward of Los Angeles.
Sheldon will be one of two teams from west of the Mississippi in the 16-team King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic from Dec. 17-22 in Louisville, Ky. The Huskies will join D-I state champion Westchester of Los Angeles in the 16-team Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic from Jan. 6-9 in New Orleans.
“Hopefully, we can win some games,” Rollings said. “But it’s worth the challenge. How often do you get a good team like this that gets along and plays good ball?”
Rollings said Sheldon defeated Oak Ridge in the title game of the 52-team Rocklin tournament and downed Franklin in overtime in the championship game of the Valley-Cosumnes River College Summer Challenge earlier this summer.
The Huskies split into two teams for their Sheldon-Trail Summer Jam, and both squads reached the semifinals in their brackets. Rollings said Eaton, Nelson and junior Kyiron Thomas played sparingly because of minor injuries.
That’s probably the only thing that concerns Rollings about his players.
Almost all play Amateur Athletic Union ball (posts Mansel Simmons and Nate Lese are football standouts) in the spring and summer, so they put tremendous wear and tear on their young bodies.
“They are playing a lot,” Rollings said. “I’m constantly after them to take it easy. Hopefully, it’s something their parents are monitoring, because we need them fresh and ready to go now that school is starting.”
Grant, Folsom dominate all-section football team
Grant and Folsom, which will meet in a nationally televised season opener Aug. 27, have landed nine players combined on Cal-Hi Sports’ All-Sac-Joaquin Section preseason football team.
Grant first-team selectees are Vei Moala, Puka Lopa, Darryl Paulo, James Sample and Shaq Thompson.
Folsom selections are Tyler Trosin, Burton DeKoning, Kori Babineaux and Dano Graves.